Two California educators vie for 2017 Grammy



Two California music teachers, Keith Hancock and Henry Miller, are among ten finalists chosen for this year’s Grammy Award for Educator in Music.

Keith Hancock is in his 15th year teaching choral music, all at Tesoro High School, where he directs over 250 students in five curricular and four extra-curricular ensembles, and runs the Music Production/Audio Engineering program.  Last year, Mr. Hancock was selected as a Grammy Music Educator finalist and was recently awarded the Secondary Vocal Music Teacher of the Year for Orange County, California.

The Tesoro music program was chosen as one of five Grammy Signature Schools of Excellence nationwide for 2015. The Tesoro Vocal Ensemble under his direction has been invited to perform at the ACDA Western Division Conference in 2012 and 2016, as one of four high schools in the Western U.S.  The Tesoro choirs have performed to rave reviews in Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Ireland, and Carnegie Hall, New York.  In addition, ensembles under his direction have won two Golden State Championships and three Barbershop Harmony Society High School Quartet Championships.

Mr. Hancock has earned three degrees (Summa cum Laude) and is a former faculty member at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University. As a performer, he has sung in Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and with the Cypress Pops Orchestra, and various venues around Europe and Asia. Mr. Hancock has been married to his beautiful wife and fellow music teacher, Carly, since 2003, and they have two sons, Joel and Chase.

Henry Miller received his Bachelors of Music degree from California State University, Long Beach in 1989 and received his professional clear teaching credential the following year.  He earned membership in several professional musical organizations and honor societies including Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Kappa Phi, and Kappa Delta Pi. In 1998, he graduated from CSULB with a Masters of Music degree in trumpet performance and instrumental music conducting and was listed on the Graduate Dean’s List of University Arts and Scholars.

He has taught instrumental music in the Irvine Unified School District since the fall of 1990 and has taught at every grade level from third grade up through university graduate. He is the Director of Instrumental Music at Sierra Vista Middle School where he teaches three bands, three orchestras, and jazz band. He also annually co-conducts the Fine Arts Summer Music Program in Irvine.

He was selected as “Teacher of the Year” for the IUSD Department of Fine Arts in 1999 and in 2016, was selected as “Middle School Teacher of the Year” for the District and semi-finalist for “Teacher of the Year” for Orange County.  He has been recognized twice by the Orange County Music and Arts Administrators with an “Outstanding Arts Educator Award”, and in 2013, he was presented with the “Irene Schoepfle Lifetime Achievement Award” for Distinguished Contributions to Orange County music education.

Mr. Miller is sought-after as a clinician on the subjects of trumpet pedagogy and teaching methodology and has presented many workshops for professional organizations in California. He has directed many ensembles including those at the professional and university level and honor groups in the Irvine, Long Beach, Capistrano, ABC, and Ocean View School Districts.

Music Educator nominees are evaluated based on demonstrated evidence they have made a measurable difference in the lives of students, a lasting contribution to the field of music education and are exemplars of the best in the field. Finalists have shown a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in our schools and have made a significant impact on their educational community.

Temecula teachers hold successful LCAP forum


Teacher Ricardo Salcedo leads LCAP forum

To engage local parents, educators and students in the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process, Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA) has taken a leadership role in the process by hosting a community forum for parents and educators in Temecula Unified School District’s Margarita Middle School on Tuesday, December 6.

TVEA presented a slide show providing information on LCAP at the statewide and local level and then attendees broke into three groups reflective of the current state and local priorities under LCAP:  College and Career Readiness, English Language Learners, and Parent Engagement. Attendees also visited tables staffed by TVUSD LCAP Specialists in such areas as Elementary Physical Education and Performing Arts, Secondary Math Specialists, and Intervention Specialists. Local stakeholders participated in informational sessions and breakout discussion groups about the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process. An LCAP should be arrived at through public meeting and consideration of how to best meet the needs of English Language Learners, Foster Youth, and students on Free and Reduced Lunch. Each school district must solicit official feedback from stakeholder groups about what are the most effective use of resources to meet the needs of these local students as a part of the LCAP approval process.

Local stakeholders participated in informational and breakout discussion groups about the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process. Attendees were reminded that an LCAP should be arrived at through public meeting and consideration of how to best meet the needs of English Language Learners, Foster Youth, and students on Free and Reduced Lunch. Each school district must solicit official feedback from stakeholder groups about what is the most effective use of resources to meet the needs of these local students. It’s considered a vital part of the LCAP approval process.

Approximately fifty people attended the forum.  Parents, Students, TVEA personnel and specialists who provide LCAP services in the Temecula Valley Unified School District were all represented.  Special guest Temecula City Council elect James “Stew” Stewart addressed the audience about expanding programs for non-college bound students.

TVEA utilized California Teachers Association’s (CTA’s) Advocacy Agenda in developing the program and focused on several key areas;

A Well-Rounded Education;

TVEA had more than a dozen LCAP Specialist members who provide services to students such as PE Instruction, Visual and Performing Arts Instruction, Literacy and Mathematics Intervention on hand to meet with parents and community stakeholders.

Teaching All Students;

One of the breakout discussion groups focused on instructional needs for English  Language Learners.  These students and their families are seeking equity and opportunity to gain the skills needed for school success.

Family and Community Engagement;

Students were welcome and eight to ten attended the forum.  Complimentary Pizza was served to families before the forum commenced,  Our own members participated side by side with parents in breakout sessions and discussion groups.

TVEA President Jeff Kingsberg explained his chapter’s commitment to the process in this way; “It is our duty as the closest link to students and parents in the public education system to engage them in the discussion of local community needs and priorities. I’m pleased our members are engaged in steps to put the “local” into our district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan.”

Due to its appeal, TVEA is considering a follow-up session this spring and will continue to seek community involvement in providing feedback for how to best utilize these local funds.

Coachella Valley teachers reach Tentative Agreement


Many months of negotiations and organizing by Coachella Valley Teachers Association (CVTA) has produced a competitive three-year Tentative Agreement that includes a salary structure meant to keep Coachella teachers pursuing their careers in Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD).

The deal includes a 3% retroactive on schedule increase, and a 3% off-schedule bonus for 2015-16. For 2016-17 an additional 3.3% retroactive and 2.8% effective raise beginning January  1, 2017 totaling 6.1%. This includes the addition of 2 professional development days added to the calendar which cost 1.1%, so the effective salary raise on its own is 5%, with an additional 1.1% for the additional days.

In 2017-18 there will be an additional 3% raise and an agreement for CVUSD to pick up benefits costs over the district cap for both 2016-17 and 2017-18.

The agreement represents an 11% raise in 3 years for CVTA and an additional 5.85% for 2 additional PD days and adding twenty minutes to the work day. CVTA leaders have been encouraged by the commitment of their members during these negotiations and pleased that the campaign has strengthened a culture of unity in their chapter.

Charter schools fail in DeVos’s Michigan


Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Trump’s high dollar contributor and  current selection for Secretary of Education has supported two decades of charter school growth in Michigan despite evidence that its schools are now ranked near the bottom in the nation in several key metrics.

According to critics, Michigan lacks appropriate charter-school regulations that have left its poorest citizens at the mercy of private, for-profit charter operators who have failed these communities. Their proliferation has also diverted financial support for neighborhood schools at a time when the decline of auto industry jobs and tax base further limited available state funds. The results in some charter schools are so disappointing that even some supporters of school choice are critical of the state’s policies.

Read the full story from Politico Magazine here.


Two West Contra Costa educators among dead in Oakland fire


West Contra Costa Unified School District learned over the last day twenty-four hours that Friday’s conflagration in Oakland claimed the lives of two of their educators, Sara Hoda and Travis Hough. Superintendent Matthew Huffy shared his thoughts on the loss of two of their own in a letter to employees below:

I write this with great sadness and grief. The West Contra Costa Unified School District is mourning the loss of two members, Travis Hough and Sara Hoda. We learned Sunday night that Mr. Hough and Ms. Hoda were among the 36 victims of the devastating warehouse fire that took place Friday evening in Oakland.

In this time of need, it is important that we support each other. We are committed to supporting our students, families, and staff during this difficult time. The schools in our district are here to rally around our community, staff, and students and to offer a safe space to express emotions and feelings from this tragic event.

Mr. Hough was an expressive arts therapist at Montalvin Manor and worked with us through a partnership with Bay Area Community Resources. He served in a similar role at King Elementary during the 2015-16 school year and started as an intern at Helms Middle School during the 2014-15 year. A GoFundMe account has been set up for Mr. Hough and can be accessed at this link.

Ms. Hoda was a kindergarten teacher at Coronado Elementary for the August 2014 through June 2016 before taking a teaching job in Oakland.